visual curiosities

from the collaborative work Witness

I was talking to someone this morning about the work of Nate Larson and decided that he would be a great artist to share with my blog world. I met him at SPE this past year (he organizes the portfolio reviews) and thought he was such an awesome guy.

I am really interested in his recent collaborative project with Marni Shindelman called Witness. Marni and Nate set up a day and time to send a telepathic image to one another. They will take in the image sent to them and create a photograph based on that information. Wild! I love the idea!

Nate Larson, Telepathy, 2004, Pigment Print, 12" x 18", Edition of 6

Much of Nate's work is related to these type of explorations....

this is a statement found on his website:

My photographic work uses visual and textual narrative to explore the way that we construct meaning in contemporary culture through the lenses of religion, consumer behavior, and secular mythologies. My stories weave tales of ordinary days gone peculiar, obsessive methods of analysis and insignificant objects that suddenly take on extraordinary significance. Miraculous pennies arrive in the mail, healing spells transfer through television programming and fortune cookie numbers win the lotto. Through this darkly humorous storytelling I dissect the line between belief and skepticism, while examining ideas of personal truth and common misperceptions surrounding photographic documents.

Check out more of his work here.


my workshop ramble

This post includes some notes, comments and experiences as the workshop manager at the Center for Photography at Woodstock....

images by Dawoud Bey.
Top: from Polaroid series. Middle: Class Pictures. Bottom: Harlem USA

The photographic portrait carries a serious amount of weight around with it. It is not a simple topic to explore in a workshop, but it is most definitely an important one.

Dawoud Bey came to Woodstock this past weekend and helped a group of 15 students navigate through portraiture- the history of it and how their own images help to define it. He showed them samples of work that inspired his own and went through an in-depth critique of the images they brought to the workshop. This was a really beneficial way to examine different topics surrounding portraiture as well as discuss what works and does not work and why. It was an extremely varied group of photographers who took the workshop so we had a lot of diverse topics to discuss.

In addition, Dawoud gave several demos of how he works with a model. He believes that you do not need to "connect" with your model in order to get a photograph that is meaningful and beautiful. He explained how he observes the person in their natural state and attempts to recreate one of those moments in his pictures. He suggested how noticing a gesture someone may make with their hands or a position they may rest their head in (as simple as that)- and using that as a guide to posing them- can lead to a magnificent portrait. we were able to see how well this worked through his demos.

It was his first trip to CPW and it was so nice to have him here! Did I mention that I love his blog too! Check it out here.

This was all going on downstairs while in our classroom upstairs...

image by Doug Menuez.

Doug Menuez was teaching Art vs. Commerce: Finding the Balance. Doug lead this workshop (for the second year in a row) to help people understand how to blend the border between fine art and commercial work. He has brilliantly done this in his own life by a number of strategic career moves.

The class went over a number of ways to fund projects, present their work, edit, turn a concept into reality and so much more. Doug makes no apologies for wanting to make a living as a photographer and I think that is wonderful. Ultimately no matter what path we choose to take- we should own it and believe in it.

Overall it was such a great (and busy) weekend.


DNA and dealing with illness

I am ending my alternative process artist highlight week with the work of Donna Hamil Talman.

The images featured here come from the body of work "DNA" which deals directly with the genetic inheritance of Lupus, an illness that Donna lives with. I am also dealing with an illness that is categorized as an auto-immune disorder and find a deep connection to these photographs and the exploration of DNA or medical imagery as an aesthetic tool. It takes a lot of guts to share such personal feelings about an illness.

Donna is inspired by the fact that many living creatures have similar, if not almost identical, genetic makeup. This being true, it is amazing to think about how different we all are- how some genes are activated and other are not.

Learn more about Donna and her other work here.


magic, light, romance, intrigue

Still celebrating contemporary alternative process artists...these are a few of Dan Estabrook's photographs.
Aren't they so lovely (and they do not even give them justice)! He was a student of Christopher James' at Harvard (lucky man!). He had a show at Daniel Cooney Gallery in the last year that was incredible.

Dan uses several techniques- I know for sure that salt & silver and albumen are in there but I am not sure what else. He also draws on the images (see the knot below) which makes them unique and not editioned.
Dan lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.


Green Photography

Riding the wave of all the awesome alternative process talk Christopher James gave this past weekend at CPW, I want to explore some contemporary artists working with unique photographic mediums.

And I have to say that using plant chlorophyll as your photographic emulsion/sensitizer qualifies as just that...

Binh Danh's chlorophyll photographs are not only green : ), they are truly mesmerizing and meaningful. Binh Danh, a Vietnamese-American, uses found images and text from the Vietnam War era as a basis for this work.

NPR did a story about him and his process here.
This is a excerpt from that article which explains a lot,

"From start to finish, his technique is this: Binh Danh begins by picking a leaf -- often from his mother's garden. To keep it from drying out, he fills a small bag with water and ties it to its stem. He places the leaf on a felt-covered board, and puts a negative directly on the leaf (he has an archive of images he's collected from magazines and purchased online). He places glass over the leaf, clips the glass and board together, and puts the assemblage on the patio roof. Binh Danh will check the image periodically to see how it's "baking." The process can last days or weeks. Four out of five times, he's dissatisfied, and throws the leaf away. But when the chlorophyll print is right -- whether precisely rendered or eerily vague -- he takes the leaf, fixes it in resin, and frames it."

my workshop ramble

Some notes, comments and experiences as the workshop manager at the Center for Photography at Woodstock....

albumen coated paper hanging to dry overnight

let us now praise alternative processes!
what a fun and jam packed weekend with the alt pro guru Christopher James. I wish I could google his brain! he is filled with knowledge about every process you can think of.

Day one- the class worked with cyanotype, pinhole (to make negs), made an albumen mixture and coated paper.

His lecture that night was great. The main thing I walked away from it was to maintain a sense of humor about yourself and your work. Not always easy for me but really good advice. And, I was introduced to Christopher's paintings. They blew my mind! Like what you see below? Check out more here.

Day two- albumen madness. Lots of beautiful work made. Actually, it was amazing to see that everyone got it so quickly. I am inspired.

Look out for my posts all week which will be highlighting some great artists using alt processes in their work.


opus 40

I went to opus 40 in Saugerties, NY with CPW's Teen Photography Camp the other day. It is such a beautiful spot and I would recommend it to anyone. This is a brief description found on their website:

About one hundred miles from New York City, tucked into a pocket of the Catskills near Saugerties, lies one of the most extraordinary pieces of sculpture ever created by a single man.

The work is an immense composition of finely fitted stone, rising in ramps and swirling terraces around pools and trees and fountains out of the rock bed of an abandoned bluestone quarry. It spreads out over more than six acres.

It is the product of more thirty-seven years of a man's life. His name was Harvey Fite. He worked alone, using his hands and traditional quarryman's tools, to build his masterpiece: Opus 40.

Today, Opus 40 is maintained by a not-for-profit corporation, which is responsible for its maintenance, for opening to the public, and for presenting arts programs.


my workshop ramble...a little late

Some notes, comments and experiences as the workshop manager at the Center for Photography at Woodstock....

all photographs by Connie Imboden

Connie Imboden returned this past weekend to teach her class "Seeing the Nude in a New Way". Connie is most certainly qualified to instruct this type of course. She has spent over 20 years seeking out unique perspectives of the human form to photograph. She uses water and mirrors to alter the image of the nude and create metaphorical masterpieces.

The workshop started with an in depth discussion of naked vs. nude. Students shared their interpretations of these words and looked at artwork that related. They also shared their portfolios and Connie make suggestions regarding what projects they should take on over the weekend. We went to location both days with models. The weather was hard on us on Sunday but everyone pulled through and made some great work.

I have to say, Connie is amazing and I love spending time with her when she comes here.


my workshop ramble

Some notes, comments and experiences as the workshop manager at the Center for Photography at Woodstock....

Mary Ellen Mark at the Ulster County Fair

Mary Ellen Mark was here this past weekend to teach her yearly class, "The World Observed". She is such an incredibly talented artist and on top of that, is a fantastic teacher. She is a legend, and with good reason. Her work is captivating, provocative and inspiring. I cannot tell you how meaningful it was for me to observe her this weekend.

This class brought together a wonderfully talented group of 16 students. Aside from being interesting artists, they all brought forth important discussions about photography.

We spent the first day immersed within these multi-dimensional conversations about art and in addition, each individual had an extensive review of their work. Some really beautiful work. That evening Mary Ellen gave a public lecture which was packed. She discussed the overview of her work and at the end showed the film "Alexander" (she produced) which accompanies her new book "Extraordinary Child". We also got a very special look at her next book which is a collection of images she took on movie sets (including images of Jack Nicolson, Tim Burton, Woody Allen, Nicole Kidman and so many more it would not fit in this blog!) It looked awesome.

The second day was spent at the Ulster County Fair where students photographed. Always a good time at the fair. It seemed like everyone had a good experience there.

Here is a really quick look at some of her work. You can learn a lot more about her by going here.